While indoor weddings have their own unique appeal, we're big fans of outdoor weddings for several reasons. Not only does being outside give us plenty of natural light to work with as photographers, but we also simply love the fresh air, stunning sunsets and overall welcoming feeling an outdoor setting provides!
However, planning a wedding out in nature can often have a few specific challenges that ought to be considered well in advance of your big day. Here are some of our top tidbits of advice when it comes to hosting an outdoor wedding.
1. Talk with Your Wedding Vendors (Especially the Photographer)
Discuss the outdoor setting with each of your wedding vendors. The most experienced wedding professionals in the industry know how to advise you on proper equipment, scheduling out the day-of timeline and may offer insight on coming up with a great backup weather plan as well.
Especially important, make sure to talk with either the photographer you've booked, or one's that you're considering booking about what the sun will be like in the specific area where you are wanting to have your ceremony. Facing one direction may vs. another may mean having harsh shadows across your face, terrible sun flare, or squinty eyes in a large majority if not all of your pictures. Taking the time to consult a photographer that either knows the venue and/or that knows how to use technology to track the sun will drastically improve your photos!
Also, don't forget to talk with the photographer about the time of the day that you plan to start the ceremony. If you're wanting sunset shots after the ceremony, make sure that you're ceremony isn't going to be too late for that time of year. For example, if your wedding in late October, but where you live the sun sets at 6:30, having your 20 minute ceremony at 6pm means you probably won't get any good outdoor shots afterwards.
Simply taking the time to discuss this with an experienced photographer can save tons of heartache while planning out your wedding timeline!
2. Look for Shade
This is especially important for outdoor weddings during peak summer months. Shaded areas with a decent amount of tree cover will allow your guests to feel comfortable during the ceremony and reception, and you'll also worry less about getting sunburned. Plus, shade will keep harsh sunlight from creating unflattering shadows and squinty eyes in all your photos.
3. Have a Backup Weather Plan
No matter what time of year you'll be celebrating your wedding, there's always a chance that nature may not cooperate. If you're planning an outdoor wedding, have a plan in place in case of rain or snow. Even for couples celebrating at a venue without a backup indoor option, a great secondary choice to stay outside may be a high-quality tent. Be sure to consider these factors and determine the best plan of action so you are a lot less stressed should the weather turn for the worst last-minute.
Many outdoor venues offer emergency backup options, and other venues are actually indoor/outdoor venues, fully ready to accommodate sudden changes in weather.
(We wrote a few posts that include indoor/outdoor options in Louisville and Lexington!)
4. Dress Accordingly
There's a reason why so many bridal shop experts ask their clients what the venue will be like when they are trying on dresses. If you're planning a fall or winter wedding but love tea-length or strapless dresses, you may want to consider other options or a compromise to make sure you'll be able to stay warm in the cold weather. The same is true for summer: avoid long sleeved dresses for yourself, and consider shorter dresses for the bridesmaids if the weather will be really warm on your big day.
5. Notify Your Guests
Be sure to notify all of your guests that the wedding will be hosted outside, either via your wedding website or your invitations. This will help them to know whether or not to wear heels, flats, boots, coats, or lightweight fabrics -- all dependent upon weather for the location and time of year.
6. Remember Your Décor and Arrangements
One aspect often overlooked with outdoor weddings until the last-minute are the decorations. Keep in mind that your centerpieces and other floral décor shouldn't be out in harsh sunlight/heat or extremely cold weather for too long before your wedding begins. You may also want to make sure that your name cards are weighted down if you'll be having a seated dinner outside: wind can come at any time and blow them off the tables!
7. Offer Pre-Ceremony Refreshments
Getting married in a colder time of year? Offer hot cocoa or coffee before the ceremony! Or during July and August, you may offer ice water or tea to your guests as they arrive. It's not only a nice gesture, but it'll keep them comfortable and less irritable while you say your vows.
8. Keep the Bugs Away
If your venue allows, you may consider having a professional company come and spray the area the day beforehand to keep any pests at bay. As another option, keeping individual containers of bug spray on hand at the venue may also be a smart idea.
Bonus: Find an Outdoor Wedding Venue in Kentucky
Looking for a Husband Wife Wedding Photographer Team in Louisville?
We’re Jeff and Michele, husband and wife wedding photographers based in Louisville, Kentucky. Your engagement and wedding photography experience is our top priority — we want you to cherish it forever!
We’d love the opportunity to be your photographers. Reach out to us online! We look forward to hearing from you!